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Tokyo 2020 Olympics end with a hope of India finishing in Top-30 at Paris 2024

The curtain was drawn on a memorable and a historic 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games on Sunday evening (Image courtesy: Twitter/@Tokyo2020)

A record-breaking performance from the Indian athletes, including a historic gold on the final day of the events, marked the end of 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games which drew to a close today. As the flame disappeared at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium close to 7 PM IST Sunday, a ray of hope also emerged that India, which ended the Games on the 48th spot in the medal list, would finish in the top-30 at Paris 2024 in three years from now.

The credit for India's top-50 finish at Tokyo, of course, goes to Neeraj Chopra who fetched India its first-ever athletics gold medal on Saturday. Before his historic effort, the contingent representing a nation of a 1.3 billion plus people was lying on the 66th spot in the medals tally.

In June, the then Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju had said that India could finish among top 10 nations in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. However, for that to become a reality, Indian athletes will have to not only bag a huge haul of medals – way more that the seven won at Tokyo which is the best-ever show by the country at the Games – but also finish on top of the podium in several competitions. Till now, Abhinav Bindra at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Chopra at Tokyo 2020 Games remain the only two individual athletes from India to have won a gold medal for the country since 1947.  

As wrestler Bajrang Punia, who won a bronze medal on Saturday, led the Indian contingent out during the closing ceremony on Sunday evening, he knew that the Indians have already raised the bar at Olympics and the performance has to bettered in Paris in 2024.

Meanwhile, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach thanked Japan Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide for making the Games, which were posptponed for one year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, such a succesful affair.

"You, the best athletes of the world, could only make your Olympic dream come true because Japan prepared the stage for you to shine. On behalf of all athletes, we say: Thank you, Tokyo! Thank you, Japan," said Bach.

"Nobody has ever organised postponed Olympic Games before. Thank you to its President, my dear fellow Olympian, Hashimoto Seiko, and to all the dedicated people in the Organising Committee for your great partnership and wonderful friendship," he added.

Many countries were not represented by their athletes at the closing ceremony because of the guidelines issued by the Japanese authorities wherein the competitors had to catch a flight back home within 48 hours of ending their campaign. This was done in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Tokyo which had witnessed a massive rise in the number of positive cases just before the start of Olympics.

As the baton was handed over to Paris 2024, it was for the first time that the closing ceremony was split between two countries featuring live celebrations, not just from Tokyo but also the French capital where a giant flag of the 2024 Games was displayed at the Eiffel Tower.

It was also for the first time that the Paralympic Games, which begin in Tokyo from August 24, was featured in the closing ceremony of an Olympic Games.

"For the first time since the pandemic began, the entire world came together. Sport returned to centre stage. Billions of people around the globe were united by emotion, sharing moments of joy and inspiration. This gives us hope. This gives us faith in the future," said Bach in his speech.

Indeed, Tokyo Olympics has given a billion hopes to India too. They have experienced both – the joy and inspiration – right from the first day, when weightlifter Mirabai Chanu won a silver – till the last, when Neeraj Chopra triggered celebrations all over the country with his historic feat.

Bring on Paris 2024, says India and its athletes.  

Also Read: A journey which started just to lose weight turns into a dream run with an Olympic gold medal for Neeraj Chopra